Makalu Wrap-up

All climbers on the mountain successfully summited Makalu today. It was supposedly a “smooth” push, although conditions are clearly far from perfect. Bad weather has grounded the helicopter that was to airlift yesterday’s summiters back to Kathmandu.

Sherpa records

With his no-O2 summit of Makalu, Mingma G has only Shishapangma left before he has completed all 14 of the 8,000’ers without supplementary oxygen. Dawa Gyalje Sherpa, Tamting Sherpa, and Pasang Namgel Sherpa supported clients Dong Hongjuan from China and Jill Wheatley of Canada.

Sanu Sherpa, leading the Pioneer Adventure team, is now just one peak away from climbing the 14 8,000m peaks twice.

Sanu Sherpa.


Note that all the international climbers who are trying to break speed records or collect as many 8,000’ers as possible climb with Sherpa support. Often, the Sherpas share their clients’ records. This includes Dawa Wongchu Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa with Kristin Harila; Mingma Sherpa with Baljeet Kaur; and Gelje Sherpa, who has been Adriana Brownlee’s partner since last year.

Bittersweet news for Pakistan

Sirbaz Khan, climbing with Mingma G, made it to the top without supplementary O2 at a remarkable speed.

“Sirbaz left from Camp 3 around 9:15 pm and summited around 8 am,” Sirbaz’s friend Saad Munawar told ExplorersWeb. “It took him under 11 hours from C3 to the summit.”

Sirbaz reported that both Mingma G and he felt good throughout the climb. Khan is now the only Pakistani climber with 11 8,000m summits.

Fellow Pakistani Shehroze Kashif has completed his seventh 8,000’er at only 20 years old.

On a sadder note, Ali Raza Sadpara, known as Apo Ali, has passed away. With more than 30 years of climbing and over 17 expeditions to 8,000m peaks, he had evolved into a mentor for younger mountaineers and high-altitude workers. Despite the efforts of doctors, Ali Raza couldn’t survive the severe injuries from a recent climbing accident while training.

Ali Raza Sadpara. Photo: Nida Aziz/Twitter

The multi-peak women

Kristin Harila has impressed everyone by summiting six 8,000’ers this season. Yesterday, she completed the first phase of her 14×8,000’ers speed record attempt by summiting Makalu. She made it back to ABC that evening. Today, she tried to fly back to KTM, but bad weather kept her in Base Camp for at least another day.

Adriana Brownlee made Makalu her 4th 8,000’er this season and the 7th of her short but intense career.

One of the several summits of Gelje Sherpa and Adriana Brownlee this season. Photo: Adriana Brownlee


Visually impaired climber Jill Wheatley summited Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga, and Makalu this season. Purnima Shrestha of Nepal has fought her way from peak to peak, both physically and financially.

Flying under the radar, Baljeet Kaur of India also summited Makalu today at 7:05 am. Climbing with Peak Promotion, she has set a national mark of five 8,000’ers in one season. Baljeet summited Annapurna I during the summit wave of April 28, Kangchenjunga on May 12, Everest on May 12, Lhotse the following day, and now Makalu this morning, Everest Today reported. Mingma Sherpa supported her on all five summits.

A note on Manaslu

Some climbers in this story summited Manaslu in fall 2021. Manaslu’s summit has long been controversial because commercial teams usually stop at a foresummit. Thus, the achievements remain unclear, especially for record seekers and 14×8,000m collectors.

The debate peaked last fall when Mingma G and his small party became the only ones to reach the true summit. The drone footage by Jackson Groves showed just how unmistakably lower and easier the foresummit was. The Himalayan Database has not released its summit list for fall 2021. Previously, they advocated for an amnesty of sorts, crediting foresummiters until that point. Yet it is unclear whether this pardon includes that season. The Imagine Nepal team made it clear to everyone just where the true summit was, and how technical the last section was!

Jill Wheatley on the true summit of Manaslu last fall. Photo: Jill Wheatley


In the case of these current multi-peak achievers, the Manaslu debate is especially relevant. Jill Wheatley, climbing with Mingma G’s team, reached the true summit. Adriana Brownlee and Gelje Sherpa, climbing at the time with Elite Exped, stopped at the foresummit, even if at least two members of their team continued to the actual summit. Are both summits equally valid? Should climbers going for the 14×8,000’ers return to Manaslu and climb to the highest point?

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.